First look of Korea's near-first iPhone 5S

Front side of an iPhone 5S package
One of the first iPhone 5S to wake up in Korea

Hayun Chung looks at iPhone 5S
Daddy's new iPhone!
As my Twitter followers are already aware, my iPhone 5S arrived in the mail just before noon last Friday, September 27. My second daughter immediately had an early "hand-on" with the package. Since the device was released just 7 days before to only a handful of countries, this is no doubt one of the first iPhone 5S to land in Korea. No date has been set for Korean release yet - past experiences indicate November-December timeframe - so I'm going to be using this shiny new toy on behalf of other Koreans to see if this is something to wait for.

This particular phone was meant to be used on AT&T network in the United States. But my excellent friend Andy, who lives there, kindly picked it up along with his after lining up at an Apple Store on the morning of the launch day. It then crossed Pacific Ocean again to come into my hands. Naturally, this raises several questions - how well does it work in Korea, how different is it from the previous model, and so on. For this segment, I'll give my first impressions.

Opened package of an iPhone 5S
What the AT&T-bound iPhone 5S comes with

Compared to my iPhone 5, the packaging box was noticeably slimmer. This might be due to the charger being smaller than what's sold to Korea, though. (Update Oct. 25: Korean version has the same slim box due to smaller charger, too.) The smaller 110V charger with two flat prongs was stood out after lifting up the phone to reveal the accessories below the box. Other than that, it was pretty close to iPhone 5 all around. The phone itself is identical in dimension and weight; the expected EarPods and Lightning cable are there, too.

However, close inspection reveals finer differences. The home button lacks the iconic rounded square mark and is flat, instead of curved in. On the back, there are two LED flash lamps instead of one. And then there's the colour of the back side.

Space gray backside of an iPhone 5S
This is what Apple calls "Space Gray"

This "space gray" is the new colour of iPhones that Apple has replaced the black colour with. It's a lot lighter than the old black ones, but not quite as light as the "white" ones that had light gray colour for the back. In person, it looks quite solid and professional, but people's attention was focused on the other new colour, "gold", so it didn't attract much interest. That didn't matter, though, as Apple's initial supply of iPhone 5S was mostly space gray anyway. Apple Stores everywhere had only a handful (or in some cases, none) of either gold or white version. I initially thought about giving up if space gray was the only option, but I'm glad I changed my mind upon hearing the availability.

Comparison of the side colours of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5
iPhone 5S Space Gray (top) vs. iPhone 5 White (bottom)

The black colour for iPhone 5 received criticism for making wear and tear noticeable. The lighter anodized colour of space gray would mitigate this problem somewhat, but as you can see, it's still not quite as light as white, so as to retain the distinction. I think it's a good tweak.

Next, I'll be talking about how I got this phone to realize its full potential on a Korean cellular network.
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